Having survived Perth’s hottest Christmas period on record, in a house without aircon, we know we can survive anything. It was a crazy end to another crazy year. Who would have thought we would still be wearing masks, though we have missed most of the lockdowns being protected by the WA border wall. You can imagine we are getting itchy feet as we are unable to fly anywhere, although we have again had a year making good use of our caravan, travelling more locally around WA and parts of Australia. 

Family Houseboat
Relaxing on the houseboat on Corroboree Billabong – a highlight of our trip to the Northern Territory.

Our major trip this year was a couple of months exploring the Top End, starting with a week in Darwin staying with our gorgeous friends and their kids. Chris so kindly offered his expert cricket coaching to both our boys, which kick-started their cricket season back home. After Darwin and surrounds, we wound our way down the Stuart highway. It was all fantastic, with highlights being cruising on a houseboat, paddling the Katherine gorge, being mesmerised at Uluru, and staying underground in Coober Pedy. We luckily avoided a couple of lockdowns, and on our last leg sprinted across the WA border to avoid being locked out! Our other trips away were to the WA south (Wave Rock, Esperance, Porongurups and Denmark) in January, and a few days at a Scout bush campsite in October. 

Greens Pool Denmark
A family cricket game at the beach at Greens Pool Denmark WA

The kids are growing up fast as they tend to do, having two in high school next year. We had considered moving closer to the high schools, but have decided to stay in our rental in Mount Hawthorn as it is so convenient to the primary school and there’s a great little community around us. 

Olive Kangaroo Coober Pedy
Olive at an animal sanctuary , Coober Pedy 2021

Olive is nearly as tall as her mum now (although Clare doesn’t want to measure her to confirm this), looking and acting more like an adult every day. She has taken her dress style to the next level, always looking fabulous. She is halfway through high school and getting better study habits and results to show for it. She was ecstatic about getting an A in English, along with exceptional results across most subjects. The year culminated with her team winning the prize for the best major project in which they recreated a TV show. Although not sports-crazy like her brothers, she still played a season of netball (to support her friend), continued her weekly judo lessons (now an orange belt), and has recently started going to the gym with her mum. She still loves Scouts and only has 3 months left before she moves up to Venturers. 

Jetson Uluru 2021
Jetson at Uluru with an unusual cloud formation over the rock, NT 2021

Jetson has had an epic year, graduating from Year 6 at Mount Hawthorn Primary! We are very proud to say that he received the top maths award for his cohort of 120+ kids, as well as the tear-jerking Anzac Spirit award for “persistence, hard work, and that never-give-up attitude”. He was elected by his peers as sports faction captain for the second semester, a recognition of his sporting passions. He made the interschool team for the ball sports, and competed in the WA disabled sports swimming and athletics championships. He continues with indoor soccer, played a season of modcrosse, and is now back into his favourite sport, cricket. He has aspirations to compete at the Paralympics, but he needs to choose a sport first! He starts at Bob Hawke College next year. 

Casper East MacDonnell
Casper on the Panorama walk at East MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs

Casper finished year 4 this year, with a fabulous teacher, and an amazing report card. He is loving his cricket and apparently bowls like a young Brett Lee. He played outdoor soccer for the first time last winter. He was a champion using his speed running down the wings, the highlight being his one and only goal spectacularly scored in the last minute of the last game of the season for a draw! He has continued with indoor soccer which he plays with his friends from outdoor soccer. He made the teams for interschool athletics and cross-country. Following the path of his siblings, he was also selected into PEAC (the primary extension academic challenge) program for next year, much to his relief. He was also accepted into the music program next year, so we will be hearing the flute played around the house. With his passion for art, Casper is a great all-rounder.

Rob Picking Strawberries
Rob Picking Strawberries near Perth

Rob’s websites have continued on steadily throughout the pandemic, and with Clare at home more (until now) he has been able to put in more hours, which he enjoys. The highlight of his year was driving the van to Darwin solo to start our trip in the Top End. His new year’s resolutions are to get fitter and healthier, to stop the niggles of old age that are starting to appear.

Clare Aussie Bight
Clare at the Great Australian Bight, SA 2021

After 18 months without substantial paid work (except for writing for Rob), Clare has landed a job lecturing at Murdoch University, helping to set up and deliver a new undergraduate nutrition degree. It is an exciting change from working with athletes and brings with it some more normal and family-friendly working hours, though she still has occasional work consulting with AFL and Rugby. 

Clare’s mum Nina turned 80 in May, and after a false start due to a covid lockdown, we finally had a big party with many friends and relatives. She has settled in well and is happy in her new home at Juniper nursing home. Rob’s mum in Melbourne has had a hard time mostly on her own in lockdown this year, we hope we can make it over there soon to visit her (and Leanne of course). 

We hope you and your family have had a great year and have stayed safe and healthy, despite everything happening around us. With the possibility of travel on the horizon, we’re looking forward to an exciting 2022. 

Clare, Rob, Olive, Jetson and Casper

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